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Washington Update
Week of July 11 - 15
**Please Note: Beginning next week, Congress will be in a 7-week recess, and so will this newsletter**


U-M VPR Jack Hu Participates in Senior Research Officer Panel at the National Press Club
On Tuesday, July 12, U-M Vice President for Research Jack Hu participated in a round table in Washington, D.C. The event, titled ‘All Things Research 2016’, featured 9 senior research officers from top U.S. universities who gathered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The event was moderated by Mike Waring, Executive Director of Federal Relations at the University of Michigan.
 
The senior research officers discussed several topics under the umbrella of: steps our nation needs to take to bolster innovation; research and society’s grand challenges; and issues facing science today.
 
Jack Hu discussed some of the interdisciplinary work ongoing at U-M, including the work of the Mobility Transformation Center, which brings together academia, government and industry. He also discussed U-M as a public research university, in which part of our role is contributing to the benefit of society. Dr. Hu also emphasized the importance of investing in the education of the next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators. Dr. Hu proposed the idea that agencies can invest in investigators rather than investing in projects, through fellowships and early career award opportunities. He noted this will promote investing in people and give them the freedom in their exploration. In addition, Dr. Hu mentioned his concern that PhD students get discouraged watching their advisors write so many quality proposals, which do not receive funding that they avoid a career in academia.
 
Finally, Dr. Hu highlighted the work of U-M’s Institute for Social Research (ISR) and the importance of funding social and behavioral sciences. He noted several important ISR studies including the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the American National Election Studies, and the Health and Retirement Study. He also mentioned the new initiative in biosocial research, linking health and social sciences.
 
Nine reporters attended the event and asked questions to the panel, including reporters from: Chronicle of Higher Education; Inside Higher Ed; Politico Pro (education); Science; Nature; Scientific American; Bloomberg BNA; Science & Enterprise; Physics Today.

For a video of the event, please click here.

U-M Professor Henry Paulson Testifies Before Senate Finance Committee
On Wednesday, July 13, Dr. Henry Paulson, Director of the University of Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center provided testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Subcommittee on Health Care. The Hearing, titled “Alzheimer’s Disease: The Struggle for Families, A Looming Crisis for Medicare” focused on Senator Stabenow’s legislation, the ‘Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act’ (S.857). This legislation would focus on comprehensive care planning for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Long-term care insurance and supporting research to find a cure for Alzheimer’s was also discussed during the course of the hearing.
 
Senator Toomey (R-PA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health Care, opened the hearing and included remarks expressing concern that Alzheimer’s receives less than 3% of the overall budget of the National Institutes of Health. He noted other nonfatal and treatable diseases receive significantly more resources from the NIH and expressed a desire to see more funding put towards Alzheimer’s research.
 
Senator Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Health Care, also expressed concern for funding related to Alzheimer's research. She noted we have great strides to make in terms of finding a cure for this disease.
 
Dr. Henry Paulson began his testimony by expressing support for the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act. He noted that lack of information when an individual is first diagnosed is one of the most pressing issues facing patients right now. Noting this issue, a few years ago U-M piloted a new program, the Multidisciplinary Diagnostic Medical Visit, a “team” approach to dementia that gives patients and caregivers the opportunity to meet with a neurologist, neuropsychologist, nurse practitioner, and social worker for a comprehensive appointment to discuss test results, diagnosis, and care planning. The pilot program shortened the time from first contact to disclosure of a diagnosis. U-M has found this approach has worked well, and patients have a greater awareness of community support and services.
 
During the hearing, Senator Toomey asked Dr. Paulson what can be done to improve the lives of individuals diagnosed with dementia, in the absence of a cure. Dr. Paulson provided recommendations he gives to his patients: aerobic exercise, adequate sleep, socially and mentally engaging in the world around you, and diet, are all non-medical, proactive activities that can improve brain function.  
 
A video of the hearing can be found here.

Jack Hu Introduces Senator Peters at The Science Coalition Breakfast in Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, July 13, U-M Vice President for Research Jack Hu introduced Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) at The Science Coalition’s Headliner Breakfast. The Science Coalition is a group of more than 50 leading research universities, including U-M, who seek to "sustain the federal government’s investment in basic scientific research as a means to stimulate the economy, spur innovation and drive America’s global competitiveness."
 
Jack Hu introduced Senator Peters and thanked him for leading several pieces of legislation that benefit the university including: the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, bipartisan legislation to support basic research and innovation; the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act, legislation which would help clarify the responsibilities of the federal government for forecasting, studying, and responding to space weather; and the Higher Education UAS Modernization Act which would allow institutions of higher education to use UAS for the purposes of research and education.
 
Senator Peters spoke about his interest in supporting the federal research enterprise and ensuring America remains competitive internationally with regards to investment in all areas of scientific research. He spoke about how he works with the higher education community, and specifically some of his work with the University of Michigan.
Legislative Wrap-up
 
Congress left for a seven-week recess with many items still on their to-do list. Of note: they are at a standstill on a Zika funding bill, an agreement on gun safety legislation, a bipartisan criminal justice reform package, and appropriations bills. Both the House and Senate have completed very few appropriations measures. Please click here for a status update of several programs of interest to U-M and where the appropriations bill is in the process.

It is anyone's guess what will happen when Congress returns to session in September, but it is likely we will end up with a Continuing Resolution that will take us through the election in November. The 2017 fiscal year begins on October 1, so Congress must act before then to avoid a government shut down.

Legislative Activities
 
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate will be in a seven-week recess. Both chambers are scheduled to return to session on Tuesday, September 6. The newsletter will be on hold until Congress returns unless there is timely news to share.
Agency Advisory Committee Meetings of Interest
 
This year, we introduced a section -- Agency Advisory Committee Meetings of Interest. This section includes public agency meetings which may be relevant to your work. If a meeting is of interest, and happening in the Washington, D.C. area, please contact Madeline in our Washington, D.C. office, and she may be able to attend on your behalf.

NASA: NASA Advisory Council; Science Committee; Heliophysics Subcommittee Meeting
The agenda for the meeting includes the following topics:
  • Heliophysics Division Overview
  • Flight Mission Status Report
  • Heliophysics Science Performance Assessment
  • High-End Computing
The meeting will be held August 8 - 9 in Washington, D.C.
 
Nomination Announcements

Federal Advisory Committees:

 
HHS Advisory Committee on Minority Health
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Minority Health (OMH), is seeking nominations of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment as a member of the Advisory Committee on Minority Health. The Committee provides advice to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health on improving the health of racial and ethnic minority groups, and on the development of goals and specific program activities of OMH designed to improve the health status and outcomes of racial and ethnic minorities.
Further information is available here. Nominations are due September 8.
 
NSF Advisory Committee Openings
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting nominations for positions available on its scientific and technical federal advisory committees. There are 13 advisory committees accepting nominations including:
  • Advisory Committee for Biological Sciences
  • Advisory Committee for Computer and Information Science and Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure
  • Advisory Committee for Education and Human Resources
  • Advisory Committee for Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Geosciences
  • Advisory Committee for International Science and Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
  • Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Business and Operations
  • Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee
The federal register notice, with details on how to submit names, is available here. Nominations for membership are maintained for one year.
 
National Institute of Standards and Technology Federal Advisory Committees
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is accepting nominations for appointment to eight existing Federal Advisory Committees:
  • Board of Overseers of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • Judges Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board
  • National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee
  • Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction
  • NIST Smart Grid Advisory Committee
  • Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology
Nominations will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Further information is available here.
 
Council on Graduate Medical Education

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is accpeting nominations to fill vacancies on the Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME). The COGME provides advice and recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services and members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce on matters related to: supply of physicians in the U.S., physician workforce trends, training issues, and financing policies.

The agency will receive nominations on a continuous basis. Further information is available here.
News Articles
Why do women lead STEM dropouts?
So Many Research Scientists, So Few Openings as Professors
The 7 biggest problems facing science, according to 270 scientists
 
Scientists Say Failure to Pass Zika Funding Already Hurting Research
 
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If you would like to be added to the Washington Update, please contact Madeline Nykaza (mnykaza@umich.edu).






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